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A photograph of a Soviet T-34 tank

The deadliest weapons from World War II

Image Credit: | Above: A photograph of a Soviet T-34 tank

From the plucky Spitfire dogfighting Messerschmitt 109s over the skies of Southern England during the Battle of Britain, to the fearsome German Tiger II tank with its 88mm gun and near-impenetrable armour, the weaponry of World War II often packed a serious punch.

Here we take a look at some of the deadliest weapons from the Second World War.

Flak 88mm

Originally designed as an anti-aircraft gun, the formidable Flak 88 was soon being deployed as a devastating anti-tank weapon. Allied soldiers and tank crews soon learned to fear the awesome destructive power of the 88, with its powerful 17-pound projectile that could stop a tank dead in its tracks. The weapon was so lethal and accurate that it was eventually fitted on the most formidable and feared tank of the war - the mighty German Tiger II.

Tiger II

The original German Tiger was a beast, with heavy armour and a devastating 88mm cannon that tore enemy tanks to shreds. For a time, it was all but unbeatable until tanks such as the Soviet IS-2 were developed that could take it on. The Germans responded with the legendary Tiger II - a 70-ton behemoth protected with armour that was up to 7.3 inches thick. The Tiger II, or ‘King Tiger’ as it was known, was a formidable opponent to encounter on the battlefield, tearing enemy tanks to pieces and requiring considerable effort to disable.

Supermarine Spitfire

The Supermarine Spitfire was one of the most prolific fighter planes of the war - fast, highly manoeuvrable and a breeze to fly, it was more than a match for the Luftwaffe’s ME-109 and was instrumental in winning the Battle of Britain. Powered by the legendary Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, without the Spitfire and its dependable stablemate, the Hawker Hurricane, Europe might be a very different place today.

M1 Garand

The M1 Garand was the standard issue rifle of the U.S. Army throughout the war. It had one key advantage over the rifles issued to Axis soldiers in that it was semi-automatic, whereas theirs were bolt-action. This gave American soldiers the upper hand due to an increased rate of fire.

This came in especially handy during the Pacific Campaign where the infamous Japanese ‘Banzai’ attacks were rendered far less effective by soldiers who could fire several rounds in quick succession at rapidly advancing enemy troops. The M1 could also be fitted with a grenade launcher to pack an extra punch, making it amongst the most effective guns used during the war.


The StG44 was not only one of the deadliest weapons of the war, but it also changed warfare forever. Introduced in 1943 in the hope of turning the tide in the Germans’ favour, the StG44 was the world’s first mass-produced assault rifle, and its rate of fire and accuracy made weapons manufacturers sit up and pay attention. 425,000 were produced and issued to German troops. While this was not enough to win the war, the StG44’s legacy lived on after Germany’s defeat. Since World War II, the assault rifle has been standard issue for infantry soldiers across the globe.


Designed in a hurry and outdated before it had even hit the battlefield, adaptations to the crude T-34 tank turned it into a fearsome fighting machine. Initially thrown into battle in large numbers to overwhelm the enemy, the T-34 was eventually fitted with better armour and an 85mm cannon that made it a truly formidable opponent on the battlefield. Considered one of the most advanced tanks of the Second World War, this Soviet workhorse is still, remarkably, in use today.

Focke-Wulf FW 190

The backbone of the Luftwaffe’s Fighter Force, the FW 190 took to the skies in 1941 and soon proved superior to every other fighter plane until the introduction of the Spitfire Mk. IX in 1942. Beloved by its pilots, including aces Otto Kittel and Walter Nowotny, the FW 190 was a formidable opponent and widely regarded as one of the most effective fighter planes of the war.

Avro Lancaster

Whatever your thoughts on the aerial bombardment of cities and towns during the war, there’s no denying the bravery of the men who flew sorties over Germany night after night. Many of them never returned from these missions - a staggering 44% of the 125,000 aircrew of Bomber Command never came home. The vast majority of those airmen flew in one of the most iconic planes of the Second World War - the mighty Avro Lancaster bomber.

Entering service in February 1942, the Lancaster was the workhorse of the Allied strategic bombing force. 7,377 of these highly respected planes were made, and 19 were chosen to carry out one of the most daring and infamous missions of the war - the Dambusters raid of 1943.


Used by the Wehrmacht and the Waffen SS throughout the second half of the war, the Maschinengewehr 42 was a general-purpose machine gun introduced in 1942 to replace the more expensive and complicated MG-34. Nicknamed ‘Hitler’s Buzzsaw’ by Allied troops who quickly learned to fear its unmatched 1,200 rounds a minute rate of fire, the MG-42 was one of the dangerous weapons used against them.

Atomic Bomb

Developed by the boffins of the Manhattan Project under the directorship of Robert Oppenheimer, two atomic bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. The bombs caused death and destruction on a scale that had never been seen before. Within days of the second bomb dropping on Nagasaki, the Japanese surrendered, and the Second World War came to an end.